Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown  with photography by Ken Harrison

On a cold February night the masses gather at  The Glee Birmingham, the delightful and friendly comedy venue to see a somewhat eccentric dude – singer-songwriter, musician, author, antiquarian, hippy, druid and occasional saint. Truly unique, his music and lyrics as eloquent as they are sartorial; his spoken word crazy, mad and bang on the money in the same sentence. Welcome to the world of the Archdood himself, all the way from Wessex, Julian H. Cope.

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Being a Comedy Club everyone has to be at the club for 7.45pm, and the place is packed and seated as the pre-cursor to the drood, and the support artist for this tour, takes to the stage. Tom Hickox has the dulcet tones and deep voice of Cohen matched by lyrical prowess. Tracks tonight include ‘Out of the Warzone’, ‘Istanbul’, ‘The Lisbon Maru’ from his 2014 album ‘War, Peace and Diplomacy’ – about a sailor from WWII who taken prisoner by the Japanese, shot down by the American Allies. For many years this sozzled soldier told his tale in the local pub, before an investigative  journalist picked up on this hidden tale and brought it to the masses. ‘White Roses Red’ totally not at all, but somehow reminiscent of Brad Roberts and The Crash Test Dummies. Hickox has a new album due out on the 31 March, ‘Monsters in the Deep’ and is worth checking out – an underestimated gem.

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“Good to be here – all roads lead to Birmingham…” Julian H. Cope. Be-long-haired, be-capped; be-sunglassed, be-bearded, Cope appears at the front of the stage and salutes his audience. He’s discovered if he’s dressed like an invader, which he’s done for years now, he can age with no one noticing…

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He believes Government should move up north – to the NEC indeed; when it’s 7am in London, it’s still dark way up in the northern reaches of Scotland, and notes we live in strange political times, of proto-tyrants. A comment on the Dakota Pipeline (stopped or not according to one Donald J. Trump) – “…too many cars, too much pollution – no shit Sherlock” and we’re into ‘Autogedden Blues’ and from “Peggy Suicide’ – ‘Double Vegetation.’

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It’s an edgy time, he tells us, exciting. [Politics] is rattling something inside of people – the haze of  in between. Of our Mrs May – “…she’s not sooooo bad….” the masses may say, the retort “she’s a TORY and PRIME MINISTER…”

Cope’s musings and banter are as entertaining as any you may hear and the mental track of his thought waves are as fiercely logical as they are barmy. While with (according to him, not very successful) Teardrop Explodes he was very much off his head on drugs and dope (check out his awesome autobiographies ‘Head On’ and ‘Repossessed.’) And narcotics of various sorts still play a part in his musings. Archaeologists researching cereal crops couldn’t conclude whether back in the day, we made food or beer. Mummies found in some far off land with drugs sewn into their clothing. The Mormon’s abstain, besides from the same narcotic found in said mummies. “They’re all off their psychedelic cake!”  When he was looking at stones, as part of his epic and highly acclaimed book ‘The Modern Antiquarian,’ he found 27 types of mushrooms on the on the plains around Avebury and tried them (he claims).  A footnote to the next track – ‘They Were On Hard Drugs.’

And a flash back and sing-a-long:  ‘The Culture Bunker.’ Pondering one day, Cope found he didn’t have a song for his funeral. He doesn’t want any of that Christian nonsense, he wants the Viking warrior on the Viking warship – flames and pomp and all. And we’re all invited. So his song had to be above the grape-line. So what comes to mind – Beer! “Everyone loves a mirco-brewery…” and to his funeral ode ‘As The Beer Flows Over Me.’

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To a synth he brought on Hungarian eBay, a key “taped’ down and Cope on electric guitar, ‘The Great Dominions.’ He’s writing two books, at the same time – one about prophets (and tyrants and stuff), commissioned by his publisher and six years in, is draining his brain. He lives in the middle of nowhere where even the poshest house nearby is still on dialup. A world where conspiracy theories can run riot, crop circles are rampant. Some Americans wrote a book about Silbury Hill, linking it to aliens. Cope quips, “… the local roundabout is on analogue, created by aliens in 1932…”,  ‘Paranormal in the West Country’ his musical anecdote.

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Whilst head-exploding in his prophet tome – he took time out to write a folk song. Not a folk song written by the people that ends up as 43 verses – no. One written by a professional songwriter. Mr Julian H. Cope.’Cromwell in Ireland.’

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This one is to annoy Americans. The C-Bomb is massively offensive to them apparently (while across these lands they can be used as a term of endearment – especially by elderly Irish farmers or an even older tractor, offering him a lift). And so is using ‘off’ as opposed to ‘you’, following a four word expletive. He could have written it to a Black Metal tune – but no – to sweet musical saccharine melody and a Bing Crosby type Christmas ending  ‘C*** Can F*** Off’.

Written as a 22 year old, he’s friend’s mom thought the next track was about the menopause. Being 22 he could not relate, but thinks now that there may be something in his lyrics to ‘Treason’.  He acknowledges he’s talking more than he intended, but loves the attention this live up close and personal gig brings “… I don’t get out much… but hey., I’d still come out and lick everyone of you…” he’s sooooo please to see us.

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And so to the encore – “…you know I’ll be back in 12 seconds…” he smirks, loving the attention. ‘Robert Mitchum’ is ruled out as he can no longer whistle (although on this tour punters have asked for ‘Robert Redford’ (?) and a song he’d already sang!). He do the ‘blah blah blah’ songs, of which he has many. He did try to learn Teardrop Explodes’ ‘Passionate Friend’ too hard to learn, too complicated, how the hell did they do that one? So we get ‘The Greatness and Perfection of Love’  and a “mmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeyyyyyyaaaaaaaooooowwwwww” – ‘Sun Spots.

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Julian H. Cope is a fruitbat. Mad. Crazy. Off his rocker. But pure genius. He’s done his music, his writing, everything creative HIS way. He’s kinda a national treasure – the eccentric archdrood, one of the best exponents of the spoken word, quick-witted comedian in his own right, ridiculously talented. The crowd tonight were mesmerised by his performance, his take on life and the hum-drum life we live. And that’s before he sings and plays songs from his 30 odd year career. Any opportunity to see him do what he does best like tonight, on musical and spoken word pure brilliance, is a must. You can never be sure what you’ll get – but we love, and sure as hell want to live in, the crazy mad world of Julian H. Cope.

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Setlist

Autogedden Blues
Double Vegetation
Fear Loves This Place
They Were On Hard Drugs
Drink Me Under The Table
The Culture Bunker
As The Beer Flows Over Me
The Great Dominions
Paranormal in the West Country
Cromwell in Ireland
C*** Can F*** Off
Soul Desert
Treason
Pristeen

Encore
The Greatness and Perfection of Love
Sunspots

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